Are you like your mother?

tre3March 30, 2007

Going to visit my mother, whom I adore, for a week. We are so different and yet there is a small part of me that aspires to be like her. She has lots of STUFF. STUFF she is very attached to, STUFF of a lifetime. And she manages, cares and displays it beautifully. It makes my style look minimal and my house devoid of any personality in comparision. Interestly both my brother and I maintain homes that while not spare do not contain the many layers of items our mom's house has. Days 1 thru 4 I will marvel at how her STUFF looks so cohesive, attractive and brimming with warmth and personality. Days 4 thru 6 I will itch to get rid of things. Will grit my teeth at all the items to manage. It is not my house...I won't interfere. Just wondering if others have similar experiences.

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Hi, I'm Night. And meet my Mom, she's Day.

No, we are nothing alike (come to think of it, I'm not like my Dad either). Truthfully, although I love her very much and we are best friends, I really don't aspire to be like her at all. She and I both like "stuff" I guess, in that neither one of us have rooms devoid of knick-knacks, but neither of us go overboard on them. But that's where the similarities end.

She and I love to shop together, but we don't like the same style clothes. I go for really tailored and she goes for "fun" prints.

As for our houses, she has a large Medditerrain (sp?) and I have a fairly large traditional. We are both good (I think) decorators, but again, she swings toward the "odd" while I like the familiar.

While I may have a traditional but boring flower arrangement as the centerpiece of the dining table, I may go in over there and she has rocks on the table with moss growing on them (she liked the look).

I like antiques, and she doesn't. I still have some of my childhood books (rescued from the garage sale) and she completely redecorated my room while I was on honeymoon!

That being said, it's all good and I still think she's the greatest - even if she's not like me!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 11:33AM
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My first reaction to seeing this was: god, I hope I am not like my mother. She was, on the most part, a very destructive, negative person.

I have tried to learn from her some lessons on how I should not be. I hope I have succeeded.

She never would shop retail, and bought all our clothing through garage sales, Goodwill and the Salvation Army. Remember the early 80s when bell-bottom jeans had gone out (at the time it seemed for good)? I was in junior high/high school wrong style hell. Didn't help that I was an awkward child/teen either. That was an excruciating time.

I noticed as the years passed that she'd buy tons of clothing, all used, of course. When she died, I brought 17 car loads (!) of it back to the resale store (and I'm not sure I'm the one who took it all). Her philosophy seemed to be: It was all a bargain, so she could buy what she wanted. I noticed that she'd buy piece after piece -- maybe wear it once, and never wear it again. I don't think it was a matter of wanting to wear something different any day. I think that she didn't really like any of it. But it was cheap. (Is it cheap when you don't really like it? Is it cheap when it is in hampers 2 feet deep throughout the 2nd floor? Is it cheap when the basement is full of stuff on hangers?)

While I could definitely do some culling of my clothing, I do not have anywhere close to that much of it. My closet is not full, and I certainly haven't taken over a 2nd! I don't clothes shop often. When I do, I will buy a piece of clothing brand-new, no discount, no sale rack, if I love it. I try to pay attention to the pieces that I love and wear over and over again and get More Of That, rather than a whole bunch of junk. I also try to pay attention to the stuff that ends up mouldering in the bureau or closet and Not Do That Again.

That is one of the lessons I learned from my mother.

Jean Marie

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 11:43AM
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I guess I aspire to be like my mother because I admire her style so much.

I like the "idea" of having so much stuff around but have come to the realization that I function better with fewer things. Although I love looking at the art, photographs, books, magazines, pillows, knick knacks, bric a brac, candles etc. I tend to become visually overloaded. Because I am unable to give up "everything" I cope by rotating things seasonally.

Jean Marie thank you for telling us about your childhood. I agree that just because something is cheap it is not necessarily a bargain. I am hanging my head sheepishly. I am guilty of buying "interesting" items off the super, super clearance rack. I'd think maybe I'd like them, maybe they'd give my wardrobe a punch. In the end, tag still hanging, I'd donate it. It took me a while to realize even if it was $2.99 or $5.99, if I didn't/wouldn't wear it, it was expensive...the whole price/wear issue.

I know during my visit I'll be thinking about STUFF. Sometimes as much as you admire another's style in dealing with STUFF and can recognize it is right for them, it helps you to clarify what you DON'T want.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 2:15PM
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In many ways, yes. Like the "project" theme. Very strong personality wise, and won't take any grief off of anyone. Her favorite saying is, "If God wanted me to be a doormat, He'd have made me long, flat and skinny." All of the women in my mom's family are were very strong and assertive. This trait gets me in lots of trouble.

We both easily decide what we like and what we don't like. Before my mom's house becamed packed, they built a place in the 60's. While everyone else was putting in harvest gold and shag carpeting, my mom's house looked similar to the current Pottery Barn look. Celadon colored walls, stainless appliances, short pile white wool carpeting, wood furniture. I look at the Home Decorating board and I can't identify with 99% of the posts. I just don't have trouble deciding on what color to use or what to put up on a wall or if I like a piece of furniture. If anyone else likes my choices, I don't know, but it makes it simple for me.

In so many other ways, no. My mom is very outgoing and has always had lots of friends. And she keeps friends for life. I remember weekends as a kid and my parents always had couples over to play cards. Any group she joined or job she had, she ended up easily making new friends. I'm more like my Dad in that I'm friendly, but I'm not a magnet for people. Mom was always busy, busy, busy. I'm quite able to sit on my behind and read. Maybe that's why I like my rocking chairs so much.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 2:36PM
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I'm a lot like my mom. her house is a little cluttered, think aisles of piles. Me too. My two sisters are at opposite sides of the Bell Curve. One has an extremely neat,spare house. Nothing on display, perfectly clean and organized. She even had modular closets built in. The other sister lives in a hundred year old Victorian farmhouse, very cluttered, to the pont of being dirty. Her kids have evey toy ever invented. She even has a dirt floor in her cellar. And a barn to hold the overflow.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 5:32PM
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My mother's house was always extremely clean and even the knick knacks looked like they belonged and the house never felt cluttered. My sisters take after her. On the other hand, there's me. My house seems cluttered even though all my knick knacks are on display in one cabinet. But I'll throw papers on the credenza and kitchen counter whereas my mother would make sure they were put into the proper spot right away.

One sister once confessed to me that she wished she were more like me because keeping a house perfect is an obsession of hers.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 8:23PM
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Gloria, as someone who isn't long, flat or skinny I love that quote.

Jean Marie, I do try to buy at sales. Some of our stores have cyclical sales, underwear one week, ladieswear the next and so on. Why pay full price if you can get 15-20% off within a few weeks. I've improved a lot in my choices. It's a lovely colour but I have nothing to wear it with so NO. It's beautiful but that neckline doesn't suit me so NO. The only size they have left feels a little tight so NO. If it looks good and washes well I get More Of That. No more white harem pants with red polka dots. What was I thinking!

Tre3, my parents' house is full of stuff but somehow mum keeps it cohesive and attractive as you put it. I tell myself that if she can do it in such a small house I should be able to.

Mum and I are similar in that finding comfy shoes is a problem. There are some gorgeous highheeled boots in the stores for winter but look in my cupboard and I'm like mum. Sensible flatties.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 9:55AM
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mum and I are now similar. Once upon a time my shoe collection was much more interesting. (But it's actually probably bigger now. The More Of That phenomenon. When I find a good style I buy spares.)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 10:08AM
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Macbirch my mother's home is small also. I love to open a drawer and see a little bare space. A drawer at my mother's house is organized and neat but there are many layers of things inside. I'd say this was a function of living in a small space except that it was this way in a house 3 times the size. Don't get me works for her. I think it is natural when growing up around so much STUFF (no matter how beautiful) to head in the opposite direction. My DH grew up with a mother who kept very little (maybe too baby pics, etc) so he likes lots of stuff. It is hard to balance sometimes. I guess it is true that opposites attract:)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 12:19PM
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Hmmm. I always found it amazing that DH's parents had NO books and he had so many.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 1:48AM
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Hmmm yes and no....
I think I have too much stuff here...I know it):
My mom never thought she had enough.
I try hard to not have the pile of mail on the counter....but I do stuff it in a cupboard and it drives me nuts..
Ok, I have confessed...its time to clean that cupboard out and get more organized.
Karen L

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 1:01PM
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Macbirch and anyone else -- I don't mean to imply there is anything wrong with buying at sales (or 2nd hand) ... I guess I just wanted to wave the caution flag on buying "because it is cheap" when it is not going to be needed or wanted.

I like a bargain too, who doesn't? But, some of the best buys that I've made was stuff that I just fell in love with and gulped and paid for.

When I was starting out (still in school), especially, I did a lot of 2nd hand shopping (thank you Mom for the fact that I knew I could, but also that it would take some effort) in order to put together clothing I could interview for a job in. There was no way I could walk into a retail store at that time and pay hundreds of dollars for an outfit. I'd buy for $10 used then spend $20 more on alterations. At the time I commented that you either spend money or you spend time. I still think that is true. If I don't bargain hunt much now, it is explained by more money and less time.

I still buy stuff I don't need (also guilty of doing so especially when it is cheap). I just tend to be on the lookout for that. I try to correct the error when I see it, too, by getting rid of stuff and making the mental note for next time.

One other thing I learned from my Mom. When I was an early teenager, I took a lot of baths. I found some bubble bath of hers (unopened for many years) and I started using it. When she noticed, she was furious. When she died, that same half-used bottle was still in the bathroom cupboard, untouched, as far as I can tell, from when I'd last used it (at age 13!). So: lesson learned: when someone gives me nice soaps or other consumables (food, etc), I try very hard to use and not horde. What good is it to guard it jealously for 30 years and die without ever having tried it?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 3:17PM
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I'm like my mom in that I don't like a lot of "stuff". To the point, neither of us like curtains (blinds are fine) because we like the light and airy feeling. My DH and I are in the process of buying a house/ we're sorting through stuff we've not used for years (been in storage) and only keeping those few things we want.

I can't wait to have more space, with not much furniture (it's how I grew up) and to have that feeling of openness again.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 5:35PM
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Jean Marie, I understand. Some things are absolutely worth the price. Sometimes a sale turns out to be timely and useful. But sometimes one just gets sucked into that whole saletime frenzy. The big annual sales are the worst for that. I like the cyclical sales, they can be useful, I can plan for those and stay focussed.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:01AM
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My godmother was one of those people who hoards and saves things "for good". Over the years, she received many gifts of perfume,nice blouses,scarves,etc.,etc. She loved everything, gushed over the gifts she received. after she died, we found everything in her dresser drawers, unopened bottles of perfume,clothes never worn. I try to use everything that's gven to me as a gift. Remember, they gave it to you to use, not to keep hidden.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:49AM
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Maybe this goes back to the generation of the Depression and WWII rationing times when having good things wasn't so easy. I just told my mom that I would sure enjoy using all of those towels she had stashed back for "good" after she was gone. "Like hell you will." was her response. So, she's using them.

I bet there was pleasure in opening the drawer and seeing the present and knowing someone thought of you. Once the item was gone, maybe they felt like they wouldn't have that pleasure anymore.


    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 4:05PM
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I used to do a lot of saving for an occasion - even of special foods, which was really dumb! When I'd finally open something, it wasn't nearly as good as it should have been.

Otoh, I've never wanted special occasion household goods or rooms unless my everyday stuff was already nice.

I'm like my Mom in some ways. As an adult, I developed her love of clean lines, even though I just thought them plain as a child. After her first tiny home, my Mom couldn't afford to furnish her houses in the styles she preferred. We grew up with a lot of antiques, not museum quality, but nice furniture. Most of it was bought at auction, for a fraction of what a comparable new piece would have cost.

My MIL decorated much like tre3's mom. Her house was always beautiful, but there was a lot more decorative stuff than I want to live with. I grew up with side tables being used for snacks, holding a book or perhaps a game of cards. I could never load them up with pretty stuff to look at! Otoh, I do wish we could manage to keep more of the paraphernalia that we use off the tables. Oh well, we're getting there.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:20PM
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Yes I am.
I can't keep the launch pad clear for love ner money. Back at home, when I was a kid, we called the kitchen table "the black hole" because things became lost there, sometimes never to be found. I remember clearing part of it to eat supper on, but not often. It was a big task to clear the whole thing.

When I had a table, it just caught all the stuff in the kitchen and it was horrible, just the same table, come to roost in my house. BIG SIGH.

Now, I'm wonderful smart and funny, just like my mom. Witty and clever and fun-loving, just like my mom. But oy, that table!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 3:38PM
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Yes, except she lives in a house with forty years' accumulation, and I live with *only* twenty.HAHA! When I go visit her, I feel buggy immediately. My sister once entered my mom's house when she wasn't home and took down her kitchen curtains and replasced them with new ones. My mom had a fit! And it was meant as a gift for her birthday! I once asked mom if she would give me two lamps from my old bedroom. No! Those are mine! was the answer.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 3:45PM
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My mother is coming to visit me tomorrow for 10 days from the east coast. It is her yearly visit and I hope at almost 87 years of age, that she can do it for many more years.
My mother is very neat and does not keep anything that she doesn't think she really will need. I am just the opposite. I keep everything, althought I have been trying to improve the last few months.
As I look around today, even after all my decluttering, I wonder why I still have so much.
Actually when I went to visit my mother a year or two ago, I felt that she was too neat to the point that I didn't feel comfortable being in her home. Although I am aspiring to be neater, I do not want to be like her. I would like to find a middle of the road place that I would be comfortable in without making visitors feel uncomfortable for placing something where it didn't belong.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 9:23PM
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Yes and no.
My father was diabetic all his (too short) adult life, and so Mother always put healthy meals on the table, but she isn't a cook. She was never interested in the process, so she never learned the properties of food or the methods of good cooking. I love the whole process, and I taught myself to be a very good cook, and she loves to eat at my house.
I also fix things. She's likely to say, oh, well, that's broken, and stick some Scotch tape on it or stick a wedge in it or break it worse trying to fix it with a kitchen knife ignore it. I either repair it myself or take it somewhere or get somebody in to do it or get rid of it. She is highly cultivated, but I am better educated (thanks to her).

But I procrastinate like she does, and start things and leave them out unfinished, and follow my interest more than my schedule, and distract myself forty times a day, and handle things more than once, and put stuff on too many surfaces because I believe, mistakenly, that if I put them out of sight I won't take care of them. On the other hand, also like her, I don't actually lose things, and I am a debt bear, and religious about financial orderliness. We both love to dance, and to cry in movies, and react emotionally to classical church music, particularly at Christmas.

And like her, I can straighten everything up in an hour if company is coming, and my underlying organization is fairly good, and I like to iron and set the table with pretty things, and I would rather die than put the ketchup bottle or anything in its commercial container on the table. I have her love of reading, and good music, and the theatre, and I know how to throw a party and make my guests feel comfortable and cared for; I write thank-you notes religiously, and hand-write sympathy notes on my own stationery, and I love fresh flowers and fresh air.

I admire her and wish I were more like her in the way she finds life hilarious (so do I, but I am more critical and cranky than she is), and in the way she has faced some serious adversity with enormous grace, and has always understood that, in the final analysis, happiness is a decision you make.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2008 at 9:55PM
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and follow my interest more than my schedule,

I love this phrase - it SO explains me.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 8:26AM
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I tend to (mistakenly, I think) focus on how much my mother and I are different, but I think it's because we live in the same city, so I am around her often. Sometimes I think absence with occasional visits would be better for my perspective of her. :-) Not that she's mean or anything, just because I tend to focus on the negatives.

We don't have anywhere near the same taste in clothing or shoes, or home decor, for that matter. She's more "country/casual", and I prefer elegant and sophisticated. We both love color - I'm sure I inherited that from her, and I'm grateful everyday for that.

Naturally though, we both love *different* colors. She goes for bright pinks, blues and wild patterns, I go more for greens, yellows and deep reds. It's hard to shop with her for anything, because odds are, what I like, she won't, and vice versa.

She's a morning person - I'm a night person. If she didn't live with my father, she'd be a total neat freak, but there's no keeping things neat with him around. I'm more relaxed about clutter. I like things picked up, but a few things scattered here and there aren't going to send me running for the trash can. I do have an obsession/compulsion with drawers, cupboard/closet doors, and chairs or anything that belongs "pushed in" - I absolutely cannot *stand* to see them left open, and must close them immediately when they aren't in use. I probably get that from her as well. Sometimes it's a good thing (there are never any drawers or cupboard doors left open at my house, nor are chairs ever left pushed out from the table or desks), but sometimes it's a curse (I have to practically sit on my hands at my mother-in-law's house to keep from shutting her kitchen cupboard doors when she leaves them open, which is often). I think it amuses my co-workers that I always push in a certain drawer that has a tendancy to slide out just a little as I go past, and I have tape on a file drawer that won't stay closed behind my desk. :-)

My mom loves to shop, loves a bargain, and is one of those people who will buy something just because it was "only two dollars!" I hate to shop, and do so as little as possible - when I need something, I am happy if there is a sale, but I don't worry about it if there's not (I just don't buy it if I can't afford it, making due with what I have). Mom loves clothes, and has three closets full - I have one closet full, and won't buy more until absolutely forced to.

Mom loves people, and loves being in the thick of things. I hate crowds, and am much more introverted. Mom loves to be running all the time, I prefer to have some "down time" to watch TV, read, and just relax at home.

Of course, there is the obvious - I *look* a lot like my mom, to the point that people always ask if we're sisters when we're out and about together. And we both love crafts (different ones, of course). We both love gardening. I love to cook, she cooks merely to eat.

So no, I'm not really like my mother much at all, I just inherited some really good traits from her (probably some bad ones too, but no sense in dwelling on those!).

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 11:16AM
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Awwwww, I love reading about all your moms!
My mom and dad had nine kids and we all think the sun rises and sets on our mom (Dad is great too, but a bit more high maintenance. Before he retired he was the VP of an international banking firm, so you get the picture. He can be a bit stuffy ;^P . Everybody loves my mom. Our old boyfriends and girlfriends still call up our mom just to chat! When Mom & Dad are back in Michigan for the summers, our ex b'friends and g'friends head over to visit with Mom & Dad. Too funny!
Am I like my mom? In many ways, yes. Although I have dark hair and eyes like Dad and resemble his mother, everyone say I remind them of my little blond haired, blue eyed mom (think Doris Day). Go figure! We NEVER get bored or need to be entertained. We're both handy and like to decorate our homes and shop for bargains (gosh, she's fun to shop with!). We're both people persons who make friends easily and keep them forever. We're very upbeat and positive. Mom cooked for our brood for so many years, that she doesn't like to cook anymore. She still has to, though, as Dad's totally (and I mean, TOTALLY!) helpless in the kitchen. I only have DH & DD at home (our son's away at grad school), so I still love to cook.
As for decorating, though, just cut and paste Tre3's original post and that's how Mom & I differ, too! OMG, Tre3, are you, by any chance, one of my four sisters ?!?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 12:13PM
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I *hope* to be like my mother with her ability to listen, to be non-judgmental, to guard confidences, to think well of people. Plus, at age 44, a month after having my younger brother, she was out riding roller coasters with her sister.

In some things, I'm very much like her. I'm a night person, someone inclined to make time to do fun things, and a lackadaisical housekeeper at best. I like to entertain and, like her, I prefer to spend time with my guests rather than running around cleaning up after them. Like her, I am uncomfortable with people who can't sit and talk, but have to be up and "doing" something all the time.

In our houses, neither of us were interested in collecting things or having much decorative stuff displayed, though I am much more interested in decorating than she was. She cooked because she had to; I began cooking at age 8 and cook because I love it. I sew when I have to; she sewed because she loved it.

I remember my mother as someone who was more likely to say, "Let's play Monopoly" than tell us to clean our rooms. I sometimes regret that I learned from her to feel comfortable with a messy house and never learned from her to routinely straighten and clean, but overall, I was so fortunate. My friends envied me my mother, with good reason. She was quiet and you could have missed it, but she was wonderful.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 3:22PM
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I only wish! My mom is a Born Organized. Her house is always spotless & was the whole time my brother and I were growing up. She also maintained a huge garden, worked full time, sewed all her clothes & mine, made dance & batton costumes for me, decorated our house BEAUTIFULLY, read voracously, taxied my brother and I around constantly, kept the yard like a country club golf fairway, etc. She is Super Woman and I love her more than words can say. She's 72 now and still the most beautifl, glamorous woman I've ever seen (think Jackie O). She looks 50. Her house is still a House Beautiful showplace and she can still run rings around me!

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 9:41PM
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